Bead Substitution Tips

Sep 11, 2007

The original Faerie Queen Cuff

My version of the Faerie Queen Cuff

I don't think I've ever followed project instructions exactly, down to the last bead. (Except, of course, when editing projects for Beading Daily.) Frankly, one of the things I like most about beading is to take a design and personalize it with my own touches.

I realize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for bead subsitution. It can be scary—the advantage of following someone else's choices, rather than your own, is that you know exactly what you're getting. If you're nervous about making substitutions, just change one element in your next project. I'll bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Bead Substitution Checklist 

Color. Consider both the individual colors and how they look as a group. I picked out three tubes of seed beads for the netted cuff bracelet, but ended up using only two of them, along with some green metallics I already had. You may find, as I did, that once you see a row or two of beads stitched together, that you change your mind about that combination.

At left, my original combination. In the final version, the teal accent color "C" became my main color "A."

Size. It's easiest to stick to the same bead size used in the original design. Otherwise, you may need to make adjustments in the number of size of the other beads in the design.

Proportion/Quantity. It matters whether you're switching out a focal bead or a minor accent. For this project, put your energy into figuring out your main color ("A") and then worry about the accent colors ("B" and "C"). Or put another way: you must be head-over-heels in love with beads "A", but with "B" and "C", you can be "just good friends."

Finish. I chose the same metallic finish for all three beads. You can mix finishes, just make sure you're doing it on purpose.

Shape. Even a simple shape change like using triangles or hexes instead of rounded seed beads can make a dramatic difference.

Uniformity. In some designs (like this one), beads need to be uniform in shape and size, or the pattern will be off.

Location/Size of Hole. With seed beads, this isn't an issue. Hole location has caught me off guard before, especially when ordering online. In an earlier post (Designing with Pearls), I mentioned the design challenge of working with freshwater pearls, which have small, irregular holes.

Weight. One reader wanted to make a version of the Faerie Cuff with gemstones. She'll want to consider thicker elastic to hold the weight of heavier beads. Also consider the weight of the finished bracelet. You want your jewelry recipients to still be able to hail a taxi or wave from a parade float.

Cost. Will it cost you more or less to substitute?

Availability. Can you get the beads you need in the timeframe you have? If you're planning on mass-producing these designs (such as for a craft show), will you have enough?

Choose Your Project
I need your help! One project from the new book, Zulu Inspired Beadwork by Diane Fitzgerald, will be available FREE only to Beading Daily members. Please vote for the project you'd like—the one with the most votes will be available here in October. One vote per member—vote now!

This week's featured project, Faerie Queen Cuff by Deb Mausser, is from the editors of Beadwork magazine. The October/November issue features five collage-style projects from the editors, tips from Laura McCabe on how to spark your creativity, and beautiful projects of all types.

Michelle Mach is the editor of Beading Daily. She will be at Bead Renaissance in Denver tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon. Please stop by the Interweave booth and say hello!

Thanks to everyone who commented about the MBA dilemma and sent photos, ideas, and advice. What a terrific group you are!

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KateD@13 wrote
on Sep 12, 2007 2:50 PM
It is very tedious to sign in to your site every time you get an email. If I got the email from you then I am on your sign up list. Especially since I get an email every day from the group.
on Sep 13, 2007 10:10 AM
Kate, Thanks for letting us know what you think--we're always looking for ways to improve the website.
PeggyL@29 wrote
on Sep 13, 2007 10:39 AM
When I first started beading, I kind of followed the directions, but I felt rather limited in doing that, so I started to work out new projects in my head, letting my hear tell me what to use. I know it sounds kind of silly, but most of my simple designs come from ideas that pop up in my head. I'd really like to start bead weaving one day, when I get the nerve! But I've found that the designs become more your own when you stray from what the patter calls for and input your own colors and shapes!

on Sep 13, 2007 11:25 AM
Peggy, I don't think that sound silly at all! I get a lot of design ideas just walking around the neighborhood. In fact, one of my favorite earring designs was sparked by some wildflowers in a neighbor's yard!
yarngoddess2 wrote
on Sep 13, 2007 1:01 PM
The two cuffs side by side present very differentimages to me. The original has a formal linear quality and the teal one has a rather casual slightly wonky look to it. Is this simply because the bead sizes are different or is it because of the size of the cord relative to the size of the bead hole or is it due to a difference in tension on the elastic cord? Just wondering before I start rooting through the bead cabinet ....
on Sep 14, 2007 8:08 AM
Hi Diane, I think the biggest difference was the beads I chose. They were more square than round, which is what gave it that "wonky" quality rather than lacy look of the original. It's definitely possible that the size of the elastic also played a role--the elastic I chose was thinner than the recommended size, so the beads had a little more wiggle room than maybe they should have. Hope that helps--I'd love to see your finished bracelet!
JulieC@35 wrote
on Sep 14, 2007 8:58 AM
As a large person, I find I have to alter most patterns so they fit. As a person on a limited budget, I often have to look through my stash and use what i have on hand. This requires adjustments described in this post, too. I think being forced to make such changes allows me to come up with my own distinctive look. It also, in reference to Peggy's note on fear, forces me to try things that I might not do otherwise. I have found it is not difficult to rip out, start over, etc. And nobody has to see your mistakes! Then, too, some mistakes turn into masterpieces!

Thanks for the site!
NinaG@5 wrote
on Sep 17, 2007 5:15 PM
My problem with following a pattern is that I tend to veer off in my own direction part of the way through so I have given up following a pattern. I now tend to look at the patterns think how I reckon it was done and go from there. As for the fear of beadweaving...I followthe instructions on the weave until I get it and it looks how it should and then I pull it apart because I know that when I want to use that stitch that I can. This way too, I can reuse the beads I was practising with. As for the pain of signing in everytime...I haven't signed out so that everytime I want to log in because something in an e mail caught my attention, I open up the page and I'm already signed in.
ClaudiaF@14 wrote
on Mar 10, 2008 12:34 AM
I was hoping to get the pattern of Laura McCabe's for the Rivoles in Bloom necklace. Could you help me find it? Sincerly Claudia